My family comes to Dublin pt 2: Whiskey, Rain and Maximo Park

Sunday afternoon confirmed what I long suspected: Manchester United fans don’t watch games of football. They watch the scoreboard, briefly pausing to glance at Cristiano’s flowing locks and point out that it’s been a full 45-seconds since he last fell down. That is, of course, until some unknown lad they poached from Lazio swings his foot at the ball in the 93rd minute without the tiniest of glances at goal, and it happens to land in the top corner. About ten seconds after a blatant fowl on the opposition’s winger. The rest of us are informed how much they deserved to win the game, as they were ‘slightly the better side for the last eleven minutes’. We even got a repeat on Tuesday, when United were again ‘the better team’. Briefly.

Yes, okay, it did drive me crazy, and I have spent the last few days contemplating conspiracy theories about the linesman’s secret Manchester United tattoos (three times Villa were clean through!), whether the laws of time and space apply quite the same way in Manchester, and whether the Essex lads know the difference between a last minute fluke and a deserved win (conclusion: absolutely not). But I’ll live, though it did put me in a bad mood for the rest of the night. I probably wasn’t the best of company when we ate our Italian in Temple Bar.

Anyway, by Monday morning I was pretty much over it all. We’d decided the night before to head out to Howth, which is a pretty little seaside town north of Dublin. Despite the rain, we headed over anyway, and spent a moist hour wondering around the harbor, staring into the wind rippled water looking for seals (and finding CD players), and standing in the fish and chip shop with lunch as it was too wet to eat it outside. We found our way there in a pretty strange way too, using two different return tickets each. As you do.

A much better use of the afternoon was to go to the Jameson Distillery. Unlike the Guinness Storehouse, this was my first time visiting the Distillery, but the two certainly have a lot in common. The start of the production process is extremely similar, though the Distillery runs guided tours rather than the self-guided ones on offer over the river. Having learnt all the fine distinctions between Jameson and various other Whisk(e)y’s, I managed to get myself into the tasting section. Which, aside from the fact that it involves drinking several shots of the stuff in the middle of the day, is definitely necessary.

Eight of us sampled Scotch, JD and (of course) Jameson. Everyone knows (well, perhaps except Americans) that JD only tastes even slightly good when totally drowned in Coke, so the Jameson staff had knocked themselves down to a straight choice between their own brand and a mildly peaty Scotch. I’m guessing they probably come out on top of most of those polls, which has to be great advertising. Six votes on our tour went to the Jameson’s (including mine), one to the JD (spot the American), and one to the Scotch. I must admit to having a touch of skepticism about the validity of the comparison (I’d love to see the relative prices), but it was fun nonetheless.

By the time the family headed home, I think we were scraping the barrel of Dublin’s touristic offerings. It was fantastic to have them over, really nice to relax, not think about churning out articles (which I do love, but a break is very welcome too), and great to eat some good food in some good company.

I spent my Monday evening watching Maximo Park, who currently sit firmly in my top ten bands of all time. The first album is so wedged into my iTunes library it’d probably take several years of forced withdrawal to remove some of the tracks from my top 25 most played. I wont bore you with the details, but they were fantastic. My State Magazine live review is online here.

Despite some serious aches and a frustrating host of United fans blinkered enough to be entered in the Grand National, a great weekend all in.

I worked out today that I have 36 days left in Dublin, then India. I can’t wait!

Love James x

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